Frugal is: Living in Your Van to Save College Costs

I hear about people living in their vehicles all the time, generally because they are down on their luck. Even famous people have been known to live in their cars during hard time,like Jewel and Tyler Perry, for example.

Just two years ago Ken Ilgunas was called a crybaby for an article he wrote in the Buffalo News Opinion Column as he complained about being a college graduate and living at home. Here is an excerpt of the column he wrote:

“Desperate times called for desperate measures, and I had no intention of living in a society that was as unfair as this one. To seek a haven devoid of the ruthless 9-to-5 ebb and flow of contemporary America, I moved to Alaska.

As a liberal arts major, I dreamed of making a profound difference in people‚Äôs lives. Instead, for a year, I lived in Coldfoot, a town north of the Arctic Circle that resembles a Soviet Gulag camp. My job as a tour guide for visitors temporarily alleviated my money woes because it provided room and board, but when the season ended and I moved back home, I was again confronted with the grim realities of debt.”

Well, it looks like Mr Ilgunas got over his woes and decided to do something about it. Now 26 years of age, he has enrolled into graduate school at Duke University and instead of living in pricey dorms or renting an apartment, he has transformed his 1994 Ford Econoline into his living quarters.

Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

Well, if you think about it, the campus has a gym where he showers and exercises. He knows ‘knows all the 24-hour buildings where he can keep warm, dry and connected to the Internet.” He uses his van for eating and sleeping only, and his daily expenses amount to $4.34 a day.

I am not exactly promoting this kind of lifestyle as the nights can be very cold in the winter and sweltering in the summer, but there is definitely a method to his madness. After paying off $32,000 worth of loans in 2 1/2 years (during his crybaby days) he vowed never to run up that kind of debt again. He is now using grants to attend Duke that cuts his costs by 1/3 and works as a park ranger in the summer.

~Andrea Hermitt writes for parenting (specifically teens), the home blog, and also the frugal blog, and homeschooling at

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